Archive for February, 2013

disrupting courthouse – some media

For more details on the action, please be sure to see the blog post below this one.

from CTV news:  http://kitchener.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=871140

and a facebook thing – http://www.facebook.com/groups/129138250503910/
(please note: a picture of the protest was featured on the Record’s site , which many facebook posts linked to earlier, but has been removed.  Here it is, taken from the original online Record article).

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Let’s show up in numbers on March 4 for the grand opening!

Check out the write-up found below.  More to come!

the power of one; disrupting the mega courthouse ribbon-cutting

Today, a PMUS member disrupted the mega courthouse ribbon-cutting for an hour, gaining much media and spectator attention.  The indoor invite-only event was unable to avoid the message:  Prison is not a housing program.

With both white-gloved and black-clad security teams, high-ranking and worker Regional police, OPP, RCMP and CSIS folks attempting to intervene, Ian was able to bounce them off of each other while upsetting the proceedings.

None of the 7 threats of arrest panned out.  Ian schooled the cops on the CSUMB while continuing to bang on the windows and disrupt Milloy’s speech.

The mega-court opens for business on March 4.  It would be so lovely to see more folks opposing it!

More info to come.

Here is the little press release that was sent to mainstream media following the protest:

For Immediate Release,   Friday February 22, 2013

Kitchener, Ontario–  A single protester calls attention to disparity between provincial spending on social services  versus criminal prosecution at today’s Mega Courthouse ribbon-cutting.  Ian Stumpf, a member of the local anti-poverty group Poverty Makes Us Sick (PMUS) held a sign that read: “Prison is not a housing program” and “No poverty, no violence, no prison”.

The Liberal government of Ontario has prioritized spending on the Mega Courthouse, while cutting mandatory programs that keep people housed. The money cut from housing benefits is being spent to build the holding cells in the courthouse.

Says the concerned community member, Stumpf: “The Provincial government has, in the last three years, cut the Special Diet Allowance and the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit.  These programs were the only way that folks receiving the sub-poverty rates distributed through Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program could access healthy food and avoid homelessness.  Cutting the CSUMB also denies women experiencing violence in the home the ability to leave and establish themselves elsewhere. The way that these concerns relate to the court house is two-fold.  One is the disparity in spending.  There are huge cuts for social services, but we see $766 million spent on a courthouse. This massive expenditure proves the lie that there is not enough money to go around.  On top of this expense there is, for instance, $1.4 billion in unpaid corporate taxes that Ontario is writing off.  The other concern is related to the criminalization of poverty. Homelessness is skyrocketing following the cancellation of the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit.  Homeless people and poor people are criminalized in our society.  We have to look at the full picture – those the Provincial government robs of housing can always be charged with criminal offenses related to poverty, and end up imprisoned rather than housed.”

The ribbon-cutting, also called a key-exchange, was attended by former Minister of Community and Social Services, Kitchener Centre MPP John Milloy.  Though Milloy was recently stripped of his ministry portfolio, it was under his leadership that the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit was cut.  Stumpf, who wasn’t permitted to enter the courthouse, banged on the windows, yelling: “Prison is Not a Housing Program!” and disrupted the beginning of Milloy’s speech.

Stumpf explains: “Nobody knows better than Milloy that there will be a direct link between the cuts and those who are dragged into the courthouse.  The thousands of people who are thrown out onto the streets, due to the Liberals cuts, will be the same folks who fill the holding cells in this mega courthouse and eventually prison.”

Councillor Ken Seiling was quoted in today’s Record talking about the incredible and unprecedented security features of the mega courthouse, stating: “the security features are a sign of the times.”

Notes Stumpf: “At the Federal level we need to acknowledge that Canada is among the only developed nations that refuse to provide a social housing policy. At the Provincial level, we need to acknowledge that there is an agenda to expand criminal prosecution while gutting social services.  Regionally, we have a hugely bloated police force that enforces the brutality of ongoing gentrification.  So, if by ‘sign of the times’, Seiling is referring to governments turning on the people, increasing criminalization with mandatory minimum sentences and cutting supports for basic needs, then I can appreciate why they feel the need for these immense security measures.  We’ve seen what happens in Greece and Spain when the government abandons its people.  It is clear that our governments plans to continue on this trajectory, attacking and criminalizing the poor.  It is clear that all levels of government understand that we are not going to sit by silently.”

More information available by request.

Important background info:

wellesleyinstitute.com/publication/the-real-cost-of-cutting-csumb

ocap.ca/node/947

povertymakesussick.wordpress.com

Ian Stumpf is available for interview by contacting this email address
forspecialdiet@gmail.com

 

A Glimmer of Hope ?

Ontario has a new Premier and a new Cabinet. The new Minister of Community and Social Services has a resume that actually suits the job.  It really seems like he cares.  Is this a glimmer of hope?  Milloy used to tell us he really cares, so perhaps this is a clever façade?

As far as the Premier goes: the new boss is invariably just like the old boss.  The role of government in satisfying corporate interest through the use of violence and misinformation against its own population has become overt, rather than covert over the passed decades.  It is difficult to imagine a benevolent force leading a mainstream political party at the best of times.  It is especially difficult to imagine at this desperate stage, as bully tactics prevail, during the breakdown of the capitalist machinery.

Maybe, just maybe, a Minister could still seek to serve the people?  It really does seem like the new Minister of Community and Social Services just might care about the plight of the poor.  Unfortunately, we must ask, what is it to care for the poor while tolerating a system that creates poverty and isolation?  Will the Minister favor his participation in the system over his duty to the people?

% % % % % % % % % % % % % % % % % % % % %

On Monday February 11, when newly sworn Premier of Ontario, Liberal Kathleen Wynne named her new cabinet, Kithcner MPP John Milloy was stripped of not one – but two – ministry portfolios.  Milloy had been, both, Minister of Trainings, Colleges and Universities and Minister of Community and Social Services.  He remains House Leader.

Could it be that Milloy was stripped of his positions because he endorsed Pupatello for leadership?  Pupatello seethed that she would “come down like a lion on welfare cheats.” This appealed to the lying, poor-hating John Milloy (who only supports corporate welfare cheats).

Or could it be that Milloy begged to be relieved of his position as Minister of Community and Social Services, due to the very real resistance that was mobilized against him in Kitchener and across the Province?  Small groups were able to shut down his Kitchener constituency office 8+ times, while also employing a range of tactics to communicate a clear message of zero tolerance for attacks on the poor.  PMUS also organized tirelessly with a wide variety of systems folks, service providers and the Region.  The media was hugely supportive of the direct action response and exposed Milloy as a liar in numerous articles. Our local work continues, unaffected by change in cabinet. Read a small sampling of print media here.

It could also be that Milloy is completely unfit to serve as Minister of Community and Social Services.  Milloy’s resume boasts a master’s degree from London School of Economics and a doctorate in modern history from Oxford, but beyond that we don’t see much to indicate that he is prepared for the Ministry of Community and Social Services. His volunteer and employment history describe his limited engagement with community groups and highlight how little connection he has with the poor.

Perhaps the most telling aspect of his resume is the fact that Milloy has authored a book on NATO.  Clearly, he had his eyes set on Federal politics. The book is titled “The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, 1948-1957: Community or Alliance”.  There you have it, Johns vision of community – kicking the shit out of large groups of certain types of people. With out the ability to fight geo-political economic warfare as part of the Federal government, he has had to settle for fighting a war of economic injustice against the poor in Ontario.

Enter newly appointed Minister of Community and Social Services, Ted McMeekin (Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale).  His biography boasts a healthy history of community service, experience and education that would prepare him for such a role.  He has a good reputation in an area of Ontario that has a decent track record of sometimes standing with the poor.   He has pledged to fight for poverty issues. Is this a glimmer of hope?

McMeekin has already begun media spin about the difficulties of the deficit, while also warming up to aspects of the SARC report.  Thankfully he doesn’t seem to be open to merging OW and ODSP.  Read more.

If McMeekin is a friend of the poor and dispossessed he will meet the Raise the Rates demands. Time will tell if he sets out to reverse the cuts and raise the rates.

We’re happy that his constituency office is just a short jaunt up the road from us. We look forward to meeting, to get him on track reversing the cuts and raising the rates.

WE REMEMBER ASHLEY SMITH: RESISTING THE VIOLENCE OF PRISONS

WE REMEMBER ASHLEY SMITH
Inquest update and response: challenging myths, mobilizing resistance
Information and Mobilization Night

Wednesday, February 20, 2013     7-9pm
Queen Street Commons (43 Queen Street S, Kitchener)
Hosted byWe Remember Ashley Smith campaign (WRAS)
Supporting organization:  Poverty Makes Us Sick (PMUS)

 

Image

After a 5-year delay, the provincial coroner’s inquest is finally underway into the death of Ashley Smith in Grand Valley Institution on October 19th, 2007. An update on the inquest proceedings will be shared.  What new information has been disclosed?  What possibilities does this process offer for systemic change?  What are its limitations?  What can we do as a community to mobilize outside of these institutional structures?

We hope to challenge the many myths that have defined the ‘official Ashley Smith story’, particularly surrounding individuals identified as suffering from poor mental health.  These powerful myths are internalized through our socialization within a capitalist society.  They are fed by the various institutions that frame the intersections of mental health and criminalization. They make impossible new ways of understanding and the necessary counter-narratives that may lead to profound social change.  How can we effectively challenge those myths in our own life and work?

In remembering Ashley Smith, we work to dismantle the systems of oppression that took her life.  We know that her story is, tragically, not unique.   In recent weeks, another woman died in a prison cell, this time in Saskatoon.  We will remember Kinew James and her own resistance to the violence and exploitation of prison while at the Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener.

Come out and help build the resistance to the system of state violence that continues to define, criminalize, disappear and brutalize members of our community. How can be accountable to the women in our community living behind bars and most vulnerable to these state abuses? What can we do, both incrementally and radically, to challenge prisons and the criminal (in)justice system?

Background:
Ashley Smith January 29, 1988 – October 19, 2007
Ashley Smith died at the age of 19 in a segregation cell at the Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener.  Having been denied a transfer to a psychiatric facility and on suicide watch, Ashley tied a ligature around her neck, and while staff watched, asphyxiated to death.

A provincial coroner’s inquest is now underway.  Despite attempts by the Correctional Service of Canada and several physicians implicated in her treatment to create additional obstacles and suppress information, the inquest will cover the full period that Ashley was held in federal custody.

For more information, please contact:
We Remember Ashley Smith campaign
Website coming soon!
werememberashleysmith@gmail.com
www.facebook.com/events/484568934923265/

OCAP fights for more homeless shelters in Toronto

We stand in solidarity with OCAP and there allies as they take direct action to prevent more homeless deaths. For more background visit www.ocap.ca/node/1057

The remainder of this blog entry is from OCAP’s website:

On Friday, February 15th, in response to a series of homeless deaths
and as the weather dips to frigid temperature once again, OCAP and
allies took over the 2nd floor of City Hall and set up an ’emergency
shelter’ in front of Rob Ford’s office.

At 10pm, police moved in resulting in people being dragged out,
detained in the back halls of City Hall, and issued trespass tickets
with the expectation to appear in court in March.

As a result of yesterday’s action, Councillor Adam Vaughan has said
that he will bring an emergency resolution to Wednesday’s City Council
Meeting calling for action on the homeless crisis.

The emergency continues, and our community mobilization must continue!

NEXT STEPS:

-Join us Wednesday, February 20th at 9:30am at City Hall: help us pack
City Council as this resolution gets presented
-Contact your local City Councillor and demand that they support this
resolution and take action on homeless deaths:
http://app.toronto.ca/im/council/councillors.jsp
-On Twitter follow: @OCAPtoronto  Use: #nohomelessdeaths Tweet at City
Council: #TOpoli #CityofTO #TOCouncil

Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
www.ocap.ca
416-925-6939

the pillars of gentrification

Today is the first day of the KW Anarchist Bookfair.  While some PMUS members are no doubt taking part, two of the group’s members have some reservations about this otherwise good event. Earlier in the planning process, these PMUS members were invited to present an anti-gentrification workshop based on their work opposing gentrification (including presenting a bunch of workshops).  They declined and communicated their concerns to some in the planning collective.  There were numerous thoughtful reflections offered by individual collective members and the two PMUS members were asked to submit a statement for the official bookfair program.  Finding that option potentially problematic and hypocritical, they declined.  Here is the statement that they did prepare:
 
Greetings KW Anarchist Bookfair Collective,
 
We are writing to you regarding the idea of having an anti-gentrification workshop/session at your upcoming bookfair.
 
The idea that we might facilitate such a session was first raised to us by (redacted), after a SC Waterloo game.  More recently (redacted) suggested to us that we put in a proposal.  Thanks to both of you for thinking of us.
 
We will not be doing so and want to share with you why we have made this choice:
 
The location is the Faculty of Social Work.
 
The Faculty of Social Work, along with the School of Pharmacology, are central pillars of the violent gentrification that is taking place in Kitchener.  On an institutional level the schools’ presence (and the earlier rounds of social cleansing that preceded their arrival) has had a oppressive and damaging effect on our community.

Overall, the students and faculty have also embodied this elitist class distinction and have demonstrated a lack of authentic connection or sense of accountability to the community.  The campus has not been a welcoming space for poor people and their allies.
 
We figure that you all likely already know this as its been discussed in great detail in our own circles and even in the Record.  In fact, we have also presented on the subject before. 
We have been involved in a lot of work around gentrification, but have been unable to truly connect with many of the activists who uncritically benefit so directly from it.

We imagine that you understand that the Faculty has been central to the great successes of local gentrification because the knowledge and backdrop for that awareness is part and parcel with class war and/or anti-authoritarian analysis.
 
We will not begrudge you that, but, we are not willing to sacrifice truth for function.
 
In addition to our own issues with the location, we feel that the most important reason to avoid such a contradiction is that we don’t wish to give more language, and therefore more legitimacy, to an academic factory producing individuals whose roles will ultimately be regulating, monitoring and ‘managing’ the very people for whom a gentrification workshop purports to be concerned. 
 
No doubt there are many participants, including the new wave of facebook revolutionaries, who would benefit from such a workshop and the discussions surrounding it, but due to its location would be excused from facing-up to any of the realities (and degrees of complicity) associated with gentrification.
 
We urge you to reconsider presenting such an ironic workshop. It would be ill advised and disingenuous to present about gentrification while reaping its rewards and propping up its officers by way of association.
 
Anyways, just some of our anarchic thoughts on anarchism.
Pan-optic social war isn’t fun,
Ian and Shannon

The Last Day of the Penny

February 4, 2013 – The last day of the Penny.

The Penny is no more. It is being removed from circulation.

The Man’s even cutting the penny now!

We could be in real trouble here.  The cuts to the CSUMB and transition to Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative (CHPI) mean a reduction of a once inadequate fund to just pennies on the dollar. Without pennies, what will we have left in this time of misery?

Let’s take a quick look at the numbers.

Before we even get to CSUMB, begin this equation by factoring in that OW and ODSP rates have been diminished in spending power/ability to survive by 60% since 1995.

Now CSUMB/CHPI:

A ‘single’ person on OW or ODSP could once receive up to $799 over a two year period under the CSUMB.  Now, with the Provincial Liberals’ escalation in their war on the poor, along with the inaction of Waterloo Regional Council, one is only eligible for a maximum of $400, in a one shot deal, with no appeal process. That’s already 50% less.

Now, subtract from that the fact that the monies are available for far fewer mandatory housing-related expenses.

Now the real kicker – dilute the full pot of money, not only by the 17, 000 social assistance recipients in Waterloo Region but by the full population of 543, 700.  The CHPI is available to anyone deemed ‘low-income’, not only the very vulnerable OW and ODSP folks.  If others need assistance, the government should provide that ALSO, not instead.  That would be “fair”.

Therefore: We need those pennies.  They all we have left right now!

This quick look at the numbers shows us that the current situation leaves us with only pennies on the dollar.  Now, it’s time for the people to take a look at the numbers regarding unpaid corporate taxes in Ontario.  The Peoples’ Forensic Auditing Committee, perhaps?

We’re not accepting crumbs off the table.  We don’t accept pennies on the dollar.

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